Monday, December 29, 2008

AIA BIM Protocol (E202)

Despite my recent ranting (aka constructive crticism) about the AIA's communication practices, I would like to discuss one of their newest contract documents - AIA E202-2008: Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit.  As recently discussed by Jim Bedrick (Webcor Builders) in a featured article on titled "Organizing the Development of a Building Information Model," the BIM Protocol has evolved from work initiated by Vico Software and Mr. Bedrick which was subsequently presented to the AIA's Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Task Force.  This document takes an important step towards the effective downstream use of BIM data by a project team.  A free sample can be obtained from the AIA at

In a previous post, I had discussed the use of disclaimers for added protection from liability when sharing native design data with team members outside of the Design Team.  To make the next logical step - from "little BIM" to "BIG BIM" - I have been conducting discussions with my colleagues, peers and our firm's legal counsel about ways to start "chipping away" at the shield (disclaimer) in an effort to establish usable and controllable channels of BIM data.  To that end, the AIA has released E202 to address the issue of integrating BIM data into the contractual environment.  It begins with the general "protocol" in which project teams can define procedural details such as Model Management, Model Ownership and Coordination & Conflicts.  While these areas are important to define, the key part of E202 is the definition of two fundamental concepts:  Level of Development (LOD) and the Model Element Author (MEA).  These two categories are then combined in a matrix for each phase of the project, corresponding to model element assemblies in the Model Element Table described in greater detail below.

Level of Development

There are 5 basic levels of development which do not reflect specific modeling guidelines for any particular software, rather a generic definition of model content and, more importantly, authorized uses of the model for the respective LOD:

SOM_LOD100 LOD 100 - Essentially the equivalent of conceptual design, the model would consist of overall building massing and the downstream users are authorized to perform whole building types of analysis (volume, building orientation, cost per square foot, etc.)

LOD 200 - Similar to schematic design or design development, the model would consist of "generalized systems or assemblies with approximate quantities, size, shape, location and orientation."  Authorized uses would include "analysis of selected systems by application of generalized performance criteria."
SOM_LOD300 LOD 300 - Model elements are suitable for the generation of traditional construction documents and shop drawings.  As such, analysis and simulation is authorized for detailed elements and systems.
Mortenson-Beam Image courtesy of Mortenson Construction LOD 400 - This level of development is considered to be suitable for fabrication and assembly.  The MEA for this LOD is most likely to be the trade contractor or fabricator as it is usually outside the scope of the architect's or engineer's services or would constitute severe risk exposure if such parties are not adequately insured.
FM-lighting LOD 500 - The final level of development represents the project as it has been constructed - the as-built conditions.  The model is suitable for maintenance and operations of the facility.

Note that the above descriptions are merely excerpts from the original AIA E202 document.  Refer to the free sample available from AIA's Contract Documents website for complete details.

MEA's and the Model Element Table

Quite simply, the Model Element Authors (MEA's) are the parties responsible for developing the model content as specified in the Model Element Table.  The Levels of Development are paired with an assigned MEA for each major building assembly as shown in a filled-out sample below:



The AIA E202 Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit is a compelling tool for use in the evolving world of virtual design and construction teams.  I have had many conversations with my BIM Specialists as well as project team leaders using it as a basis for development of BIM Management Plans; however, it has not yet become a formal addendum to any of our project contracts.  That will likely change very soon.

The AIA Document E202 is a copyright of The American Institute of Architects and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law and International Treaties.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

AIA Green?

According to some of their "Rebuild and Renew" initiatives, the AIA is encouraging architects to focus on "green communities" and "green economy," yet I am somewhat perplexed by the recent methods by which they choose to communicate with their members.  I am referring to some recent mailings which just seem to fly in the face of the message of sustainability. 

First, let me explain that I happen to be involved in a working group of the AGC BIMForum focused on electronic submittals.  That said, I was frustrated to receive a letter (paper) from the AIA informing me that they are "dedicated to serving (me) as we work together to create more valuable, healthy and sustainable buildings and communities...with a vast pool of resources to help (my) business compete in today's market, including outstanding FedEx Kinko's discounts."  In a day and age where the president-elect is sending out text messages and I can review shop drawings from projects in the Middle East without shipping a single tube of printed drawings, how exactly does a FedEx discount help me to create a more valuable and healthy community?  Why doesn't the AIA offer me a special discount for Autodesk Buzzsaw or point me to free services such as CADALYST's Online PlanRoom?


Next I received a booklet highlighting the winners of the AIA New York State Design Awards.  Come on!  Wouldn't this information better serve the community in a website?  In that format, it might even allow the winning architects to post more compelling materials (animations, 3D walkthru, etc.) and allow community commentary on the submissions.  Oh...they already have a site.

DDG 002   DDG 004

If you are a member of the AIA, I encourage you to contact your local chapter or AIA headquarters to fight for more environmentally friendly communication practices.